Female breadwinning likeliest among the youngest women

female-breadwinnersWith Conservatives and a record number of women and ethnic minority MP’s now in power, we’ll wait and see how far up pay equity is on the new political agenda. But research shows equal pay for the next generation, particularly the growing number of young women who are already the main earners is more vital than ever. A recent UK survey, by insurers LV, of more than 2,000 people on the gender pay gap surprisingly shows that 1 in 4 young women (under 24) out-earn their male partners. The study also found that of all age groups, 1 in 5 women is now the family breadwinner. But this isn’t a sign of gender equality, because female earnings: ”begin to dip after the age of 30 – the average age at which a woman gives birth and bringing up young families, while men earn more after the age of 40,” explains Steve Doughty in the DailyMail.

Interestingly, the sexes handle the responsibility differently: 43% of women and just 34% of men were stressed by being the main earner. The reason for the difference is probably twofold: men are more likely to have been raised with the expectation they’d ‘bring home the bacon’; doing so feels like a ‘natural’ responsibility and their ‘manly’ duty. Plus in our experience, women, particularly high achievers, plan ahead. They may be envisioning a future where the arrival of their own children mean they’d like to take a step back; difficult if the money is made by mum, not dad. Plus the rise of in-work poverty means that it takes two incomes to survive for any family – no doubt adding to her stress.

According to MomsRising.org, the wage gap is wider between mothers and non-mothers than between women and men in the US – a trend Female Breadwinners feels confident we’d see in Europe as well. Women without children earn 10% less than men, while mothers earn a staggering 27% less than men. The gap is even wider for lesbians and women of colour, and has serious implications for families who rely on her income.  However, to create a more just society, equal wages is the only way to will ensure all workers, male and female can support themselves and their loved ones.

Baby coming after this weekend? How new family leave will affect you

dad's sharing parental leave, female breadwinnersOne of our Female Breadwinner readers, Lily Donaldson, helped Money.co.uk write a guide on Shared Parental Leave (SPL) after she missed out on the benefits afforded parents having a child after April 5 of this year. In her article she explains: ‘Until now, partners were entitled to two weeks of standard paternity leave, and while additional paternity leave of 26 weeks was also available, only one in 50 used the additional leave. With the introduction of SPL couples will now be able to share 52 weeks of leave between them when they have a baby or adopt.’

This is a boon for female breadwinners in particular as mothers can share their allowance with their partners and return to work more quickly. Before, mums had to wait until 20 weeks after the child was born before passing leave on to her partner. SP Fathers will still be able to take two weeks of paternity leave straight after the child is born that won’t count towards your SPL entitlement. However, additional paternity leave has been replaced by SPL. Let’s watch this space to see if this enables men to actually take more leave…and for employers to understand that families are raised by more than just mothers.

For ambitious woman, is the smart money on seeking a second fiddle spouse?

couple1-e1421849361535While most women and men claim to seek egalitarian relationships, there is at least one group of men who predict at the outset they won’t end up in these idylls. And is there something for modern women to learn from them? Harvard Business School recently surveyed 25,000 recent alums and found that it’s male graduates predicted they’d end up in traditional, 1950’s style nuclear families. The women on the other hand sought out egalitarian relationships – and were more frequently disappointed with their career progress. Rather than see Harvard men simply as sexist, would we do better to view them as pragmatic for today’s institutions – and copy them instead?  These men had spent 2 years studying what it took to develop successful careers and businesses and probably saw how senior people need a good team – in and outside the office.

As explained in Catherine Rampell’s piece in the Washington Post ‘Stuck in the 1950’s’: ‘They’re also members of a socioeconomic class that invests substantially more in their children today than in the past, meaning they may feel the need to have a spouse who has the time to be an active parent.’ We at Female Breadwinners are championing a more egalitarian workplace, where two partners can each have fulfilling careers and an active home life. But until that happens, perhaps the savviest women will be those who seek smart men who’d be willing to play second fiddle to an ambitious woman.

Partner spends too much or too little? Lessons for modern female breadwinners

Female breadwinner and spendingMarketplace.com recently looked at ‘Being the breadwinner: A blessing and a curse’. In it, Mackenzie Dawson and I discussed how to react if your male partner spends too little or too much. This is a conundrum made even trickier when you add in gender politics. I’ve coached a banking executive whose lower earning husband didn’t feel he deserved the villa holidays she wanted for them. He insisted they go camping instead. Their compromise? One luxury and one camping holiday a year, that they both paid for respectively.

Equally, I’ve worked with female clients who felt their other halves were a bit too self-indulgent with yet another set of golf clubs, studio recording equipment or lavish nights out with the boys. Have an ongoing and honest dialogue with your partner; people are fluid so continually checking in that it still works well for both of you is vital.

Dawson asked me for my top tips for dealing with partners who spend too much or too little:

  • Lower earning partners may question if they should be spending your earnings. Some will feel reticent to spend it since they haven’t technically earned it through their own paid labour – spending ‘her’ money can be a threat to their masculinity. A great way to change their attitude is to ask how they would feel about you spending their money if they were the main earner? “Often men can see the double standard they are imposing on themselves when they realize they would be happy to provide for her.”

  • On the other hand, potential tensions arise if they are a bit too free with the cash; talk about your joint goals as a family. Ask him about his ideas for the 2 or 3 big goals you have for the year. You each pick a goal plus (new bedroom furniture or a golf trip with the boys) a third you jointly pick, such as a family holiday to Greece. Determine a limit on how much you’ll spend on each goal. Then when decisions over cash come up; ask how spending that money gets you closer or further away from that goal.

Why more successful start-ups are led by women

successful start upIn working with successful career women, we often work with entrepreneurs. In fact, in some of the recent executive leadership coaching workshops I have conducted; almost half the attendees were entrepreneurs, an inconceivable ratio even 10 years ago. We see women’s entrepreneurship as a direct response to feeling overlooked and frustrated in the corporate sector. The problem for their former employers is that when middle and senior management women leave, they take hard-earned knowledge, contacts and ambition with them. Now research shows that when they do go, their new businesses are the real winners.

In fact, a survey late last year by Dow Jones VentureSource, on female executives in start ups found new companies have a better chance of going public, operating profitably or being sold for a net gain if they have women founders or board members. After analysing more than 15 years of venture-backed company data in the United States, the survey discovered the overall median proportion of female executives is 7.1% at successful companies and 3.1% at unsuccessful companies. Also, for start-ups with five or more females, 61% were successful and only 39% failed. This clearly demonstrates the value having more females can potentially bring to a management team.

In an article on Modern start-ups are suited to women, Luke Johnson wrote in the Financial Times, “Diversity in general makes organisations more resilient. Many businesses fall apart thanks to testosterone-fuelled disputes and founders overreaching thanks to rushes of hubris that tend to afflict men more often. Women are well-placed to curb such excess, and keep a project on course with more thoughtful management policies.”

Apart from the benefits they bring start-ups, women also gain from running the show. In other research, women cite flexibility as one of the key reasons they set up on their own. Women can also be more risk-averse than their male counterparts and less willing to sacrifice family life for the business. Neither of these traits are a negative: over-ambition and burnout are prime causes of bankruptcy and commercial failure.

At Female Breadwinners, we wholeheartedly applaud and are proud to be part of this new shift. Diversity of leadership styles brings better overall management and sustainable growth to start-ups, which is great news for both men and women.

Want to know the secret to a better marriage and good sex life?

MP900446473We’re always on the look out for ways to inspire men to see the benefits of pairing with a female breadwinner and join the campaign for gender equality. Today a savvy Scottish female breadwinner sent us the article in The Evening Standard: ‘Lower-earning men ‘better in bedroom’. A UK survey of 1,010 married couples found over half of the men who earned less than their spouses described their love lives as ‘hot’ or ‘very good’. We just had to share this with our forward thinking readers!

The survey by Time’s Money Magazine, ‘Love and Money, By The Numbers’ found:

  • 90% of lesser earning husbands reported ‘happy’ marriages compared to 75% of men whose wives earned less.
  • 56% of lesser earning husbands reported ‘good sex lives’ compared to 44% of men whose wives earned less.
  • Female breadwinners looked after the home finances: 76% of these women paid the bills, compared to 49% of women who earned less than their husbands.

So, is the secret to a better marriage and a good sex life to marry a female breadwinner?

We at Female Breadwinners don’t advocate men quit their jobs to improve their sex lives. However it is certainly another pleasurable reason for men to advocate for greater gender pay equity.

 

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